Karate as self-defense

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Jiei – self defense

Shotokan Karate as self-defense

The origin of Shotokan Karate and the techniques which are taught suggest that you will learn to effectively defend yourself.

But the use of a Karate technique under training conditions or competition is significantly different from the conditions of a self-defense situation.

Thus, it is necessary to trim the perspective of the learned techniques and movements on effectiveness and pragmatic use.

Those who do not workout are untrained

Self defense with karate techniques must be learned. It is not necessary to rehearse a rich fund of techniques or a very flexible handling of potential situations – it is more important to use the technique very strong, to keep the correct distance and to be targeted. 

You can use different bunkai, randori and kumite situations as self defense exercises. 

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Hitting hard

There is nothing to gloss over: Who wants to defend itself, must ruthlessly grab, hit and kick the opponent. Who hesitates or is insecure, will not be able to defend effectively – regardless of knowledge or belt color.

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 Attack is not the best defense

„There is no first attack in Karate“
Gichin Funkaoshi

Who follows Dojokun and Shoto Niju Kun has a good basis for the proper handling of situations where it is important to protect one’s own person.

No one loses face, if he will not fight – and to be able to defend yourself, does not mean to look for conflicts.

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The limits

Fighting an armed attacker is a high risk and who faces more than one attacker, not only has to prove courage. Not every conflict can be avoided, but a careful manner perhaps already will prevent to get into critical situations.

The bigger picture

Those looking for suggestions, what techniques are particularly suitable from Karate, should even look at the systems of Krav Maga or even take a course. There are simple techniques taught which can also be reflected in karate. Tactics, the proper action under stress and practicing the appropriate reaction are in the foreground.

Also cross-Budo training or sparring with a budoka from a different style will provide a better understanding for the practical application of learned techniques.

Self defense – what do you need

  • good self-esteem
  • good self-awareness
  • strong behavior
  • careful action (winning without fighting)
  • perfected techniques
  • understanding of techniques

Shotokan and self defense

Shotokan Karate can help you to be better prepared for an emergency situation, but it is no guarantee to remain intact. It is also conceivable that, due to physical conditions,
Shotokan is entirely unsuitable and you should try another martial art or self defense system.

Advantage of Shotokan Karate

The training system of Shotokan Karate teaches more, as pure self-defense. This is an advantage, but also brings a disadvantage:

Until you can defend yourself effectively, you will need more time than other „systems“.

But if you keep it rolling you will earn the following effects:

Technique will become naturally move

  • internalise the technique through constant repetition
  • react and apply without thinking
  • the technique as a reflex instead of a wilful action

Enhanced physique

  • strengthening of arm and hand strength
  • strengthening of the trunk and legs
  • physical strength and endurance
  • increase speed of reaction    
  • good sense of balance

Mental strength

  • ease of mind and harmony
  • self-control
  • good body awareness
  • understand your own body and its mechanics
  • learn with others, workout karateka of different sizes and weights 
  • better feeling for distance and optimized timing

Karate as effective self defense

Choki Motobu (1870 – 1944), was a karateka with a more pragmatic / combative approach unlike in shotokan karate. He has established the following  basic principles:

  • kicks are not particularly effective in a fight
  • if you ward off a kick, do it so (hard), as if you want to break the shin of the opponent
  • you have to try to fend off the technique at the root / source, you should not fend the attacking hand, but the arm
  • you have to learn to dodge the attack, to refract it even if it comes from behind
  • in a real fight one should try to beat the enemy in his face, this is most effective
  • if you hit your opponent into his face, it should be so hard like trying to hit through the head

This is not gentelemanlike and do not fit to the „non-violent“ Shotokan Karate, but shows very clear, on what self-defense can be reduced: Targeted aggression.  Such a response to an attack is destructive against the aggressor – but it will protect your own health.

Important techniques

  • evasion
  • redirection
  • keep distance to the opponent
  • foot sweep kicks
  • wiping techniques
  • double arm strikes (defend and attack in one strike)
  • locking techniques and chokehold
  • attacks on vital points
  • destroy opponents balance

Major impact areas:

  • elbows
  • knees
  • knuckles (Ippon Ken)

The best for last

Running away is one of the safest things! Take to your heels 🙂

Self defense

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